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The Heron Legacy by Leona Francombe

The Heron Legacy is the new historical fiction be Leona Francombe. I have read two of her earlier books, The Sage of Waterloo and The Universe in 3/4 Time which I loved. Leona's new historical fiction is a story about a legend of love, hate and misdeeds, which keep you occupied until the end.

Charles Fontaine is a young man, around 16 years old when the story starts. His favourite passtime is to be with his uncle Theodore who is a history teacher. Theodore lives in the old family estate, Blancherhon, although it belongs to Charles' father Hugo. Charles is interested in history and spends time with his uncle who tells him of the old Heron legend. Although Charles would like to study history his father, a rather harsh and unloving father, has other plans. He takes Charles with him to New York to study law. Father and son have a troubled relationship but Charles is not strong enough to oppose his father.

All his life Charles has heard the story of the ancient legend of the heron. It was sung by troubadours and tells the story of a strange seeress and healer. Her music and songs enchanted a local aristocrat preparing to leave for the crusade. She was said to have taken the form of a white heron after her mysterious death. The locals claim that you can still se her at the pond near Blancheron.

Before Charles left Belgium for the United States he took a last walk around the estate and was totally absorbed by its surroundings when he actually saw a heron in the pond. At the same time he heard somebody sing and saw a quick glance of a girl who disappeared into the forest. Charles could not say wether it actually happened or was just an illusion. It was all too close to the legend. The strange meeting did stay with him during his exile, and would have an influence in his future.

Seventeen years later Hugo and Charles receive the information that Theodore has died. Hugo sends Charles to Belgium to sell the estate. As Charles returns he contacts his aunt and friends of Theodore. Very soon he realises that it is more to the death of Theodore than meets the eye. When Charles gets hold of an old document concerning the legend, he is determined to find out what happened to Theodore and find the truth behind the old story.

Leona Francombe uses the legend, and the historical accounts of the crusaders, to build up a story of love, hate, and misdeeds. Together with a famous medievalist and a woman from his youth, Charles is determined to find out what really happened nine centuries ago. The search is not without danger and he finally finds out what he is capable of, and what is important in his life.

As usual Leona Francombe builds up the characters, and above all historical events, and turn them into an exciting story with many depths. With beautiful prose she takes us into nature and its fascinations, which becomes an important background to the story, and the legend itself. The search for the truth of the legend is thrilling and borders on magic. When the puzzle is finally done, the story takes an unexpected turn.

This novel is a must for any one interested in history, but also for those who enjoys a good mystery and riddle. The characters are well defined and the excitement is kept up until the very end.

Leona Francombe not only writes, she is also a pianist and composer, so music has thus an important role in her books, as in the Heron legend. She lives in Belgium with her family, and often integrates places in Belgium in her books. If you are familiar with Belgium and Brussels you will recognise many places in her telling of the Heron legend. For me, who have lived in Belgium for some years, it was a nice welcome back to read about familiar places.

I received a copy of the novel for a fair and impartial review. These are my personal thoughts of the novel.

15 views2 comments


Jun 30

PS -- that guest was me -- Jeanie


Jun 30

this looks like something I would just love.

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